DJ Tennis Interviews Dixon, and Vice Versa
DJs Tennis and Dixon, two of the world’s foremost figures in the electronic music scene and legends of the craft by any metric you fancy, have recently begun a period of fruitful collaboration. Upcoming, artists from Life and Death and Innervisions—their respective labels—will soundtrack an “art experience” called Rakastella, to take place on the beach, demarcating the Eastern-most edge of 2018’s Miami Art Basel. This follows Los Angeles’ Secret Project: an underground music, arts, and food festival, which saw both artists take a turn behind the decks. Below, you’ll find an interview in which DJ Tennis, an Italian computer-scientist with punk roots who does actually love tennis, and Berlin-based Dixon, co-creator of a clothing line (Together We Dance Alone) and perennially ranked as the most popular DJ on the globe, trade off as interviewer and interviewee over the course of an interesting conversation about sound, social media, and what makes an event special in this era.
DJ TENNIS INTERVIEWS DIXON:
Why is it so important for you to create your own branded events?
Over the last couple of years we tried to achieve as much control as possible for the production, distribution, and performing of our music. We started that with our own label, followed by our own distribution, publishing, and booking agency. The final piece in that line are our own events. Why all this? We want to make as few compromises as possible.
What’s the secret to making an event special nowadays?
Dance music events outside of clubs tend to lose the key ingredients of a clubbing experience and are rather a kind of concert experience. DJs high up on stage for a short time with people watching them. Bringing the DJs, as much as possible, onto the same level as the attendees takes away the focus on the performer and puts the focus on the audience themselves, making them lose themselves in the music.
Do you consider yourself an influencer? (Not just under the musical point of view.)
The word influencer has a very bad connotation for me (or everyone?). An influencer is a person that talks about stuff he/ she has no clue about, but only an opinion. And the fact that these people have a lot of followers on social media makes their opinion not more or less knowledgeable. And knowledge should be the key for guidance. But people around me sometimes call me “Mr. Pusherman.” Because in my field of knowledge, club music, I tend to push people into new directions.
Is social media important for you? How do you use it?
As a private person I use social media as everyone else. As DJ Dixon I see my social media activities sometimes as my weak spot. Because I do think whatever you decide to do, you should do 100%. Either do it “right” or don’t do it. Having a FB and Instagram account but only “informing” people on a very sporadic basis is not what the experts would call a “perfect use of the medium.”
Describe your Burning Man experience in 3 lines.
DIXON INTERVIEWS DJ TENNIS:
Why did you choose such a dramatic name for your label— Life and Death?
I always wanted to revisit, re-explore, and regenerate forgotten (Dead) sounds and emotion with a new approach (Life). At the time the label was born (at the end of the decade 2000-2010) the general musical output was very flat and repetitive... and I wanted to create something different.
Do you have a musical vision for your label, or does the sound of the label depend on the demos you are sent?
I rarely release the demos I receive. I rather tried to create a collaborative exploration together with the amazing artists I’ve met through the years in order to achieve a unique and deep output. It’s about the music and the feelings the relationship evokes. The label sound has always evolved, but on every piece of music there is a fille rouge which is a solid psychedelic component.
What is the meaning of the word “Rakastella”?
I was playing in Finland and heard this word a few times during a conversation with some friends. I liked the sound, and then I realized that the meaning is “making love,” and that immediately and positively won my heart.
You started to DJ quite late in your life. What did you do before that?
I’ve always worked in the music business wearing different hats—recorded soundtracks for movies, tour managed punk bands, organized concerts, and promoted electronic events. I always liked to DJ in any kind of situation, as I’ve been a record collector since I was 13 years old. I find myself digging into every kind of music with no limits.
I was always attracted by the psychology of performing music for a wide crowd and, after seeing more than 2000 different DJs and live performers in totally different environments, I realized that it was the best school for me.
I just decided to start Life and Death after sending you (Dixon) a demo track from Thugfucker called Disco Gnome—which you rejected for Innervisions—and that was how our first release happened. The label had some success, and I found myself DJing everywhere after few months.
What makes a DJ interesting for you?
The ability to earn the trust of different crowds without compromising his or her own style and taste.